Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Writers Write About Writing

The reading habits of the average evangelical Christian in the United States, as far as I have been able to observe them, are so wretchedly bad as actually to arrest the spiritual development of the individual believer and block the progress of the faith he professes to hold.

So powerful is the effect of the printed page on human character that the reading of good books is not only a privilege but an obligation, and the habitual reading of poor ones a positive tragedy. A.W. Tozer. The Warfare of the Spirit, Chapter 28; The Decline of Good Reading, Christian Publications. 1993, 125.

That said with cutting expression, Tozer makes a point writers must heed. Bad writing makes bad books. Authors, throughout the span since Gutenberg, learned the work and toil required to publish well written books.

Writers must read voluminously. Ernest Hemingway explains his appetite for the written word:

“I'm always reading books—as many as there are. I ration myself on them so that I'll always be in supply." The words are Hemingway's, but friends and relatives have also testified to the extent of his reading.

"He was always reading. When he wasn't working, he was reading. "He read all the time.” "I think Ernest read just about everything. He was a terrific reader." "He read everything. He would have a whole group of books going at one time, eight or ten... He would put one down and pick up another." "Ernest read everything."

Today’s catalog of Hemingway’s personal library lists 7,700 books; 278 he wrote himself.

Writers have to determine to work hard and not let anything stop them. Read how Joni Eareckson Tada has to prepare to write:

There were plenty of times at Joni and Friends when I had to pull away from the computer and simply lie down to give my body a break. It takes a team of people to not only help me research and type, but to get me sitting up comfortably in my wheelchair and moving forward.

This is no time to write a book.

But I have to try.

It won’t be easy. It may not be wise. Nevertheless, if you are reading these words, it has been accomplished, and the book has been published. God be thanked!

… Incessant pain, as those who have lived in its grip can attest, makes it very difficult to think, work, relate, plan, write. Joni Eareckson Tada. A Place of Healing, David C. Cook, 2010

Let me add some light to the quandary:

In Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller dabs colorful paint on a canvas to create the picture most think of when they hear writer used as a profession:

Writers don’t make any money at all. We make about a dollar. It is terrible. But then again we don’t work either. We sit around in our underwear until noon then go downstairs and make coffee, fry some eggs, read the paper, read part of a book, smell the book, wonder if perhaps we ourselves should work on our book, smell the book again, throw the book across the room because we are quite jealous that any other person wrote a book, feel terribly guilty about throwing the schmuck’s book across the room because we secretly wonder if God in heaven noticed our evil jealously, or worse, our laziness. We then lie across the couch face down and mumble to God to forgive us because we envied another man’s stupid words. And for this, as I said before, we are paid a dollar. We are worth so much more. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003. 187

What does it take to be a writer?

Hard Work
Lot’s of Reading
A Dose of Humor

Ready, set, go…

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